Debating Free International Trade

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This article begins with a definition of free international trade and a brief history of the evolution of free trade as an ideology and economic policy. It next considers the case for free trade as first articulated by classical economists Adam Smith and David Ricardo and then examines free trade critiques proffered by Friedrich List and Marxist scholars who claim that free trade can never be just nor fair so long as relational and structural power inequalities exist between corporations and workers. This article concludes with a summary of the current free trade debate, highlighting, in particular, how radical critics of free trade have begun to embrace a more distinctly Marxian view of the dynamics of globalized capital accumulation. This new perspective acknowledges the progressive transformations that globalized trade has brought to developing countries while also highlighting the ways global free trade relies upon and sustains an exploitative class dynamic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-47
Number of pages23
JournalAmerican Journal of Economics and Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


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